Teens are known for being social media natives and the mood-switch of the family, but they can also make or break a family vacation. Today’s teens have scrolled through countless posts of picturesque vacations, which means they have strong opinions on the “perfect family vacation.” There are also some teens who “could not care less” and would rather stay home than go out with the family.
Whether your teenagers are members of each group or are in the vacation “neutral,” you can still plan a memorable vacation with them. Planning a vacation goes beyond “Where should we go?” “Should we visit the Grand Canyon or is that too old for teenagers?” and “Do we need to bring face masks and a teeth whitening kit on a trip?”
Consider the following steps.
Involve Your Teens in the Planning
Even though your child will respond with a casual shrug and a “Whatever,” it’s important to include them in the planning phase. Just like adults, teens want their opinions to be heard. The more they’re involved in the planning stage, the more likely they will be engaged and the less likely they are to complain during the entire vacation.
Planning also offers a great opportunity to teach them about compromise. When planning, you’ll discuss locations, methods of transportation, costs and things to do. Have your kids pick the destination and consider the pros and cons. If you’re traveling on a budget, compromise and have them pick another location. But as much as possible, match the destination to the teenager.
Plan for Downtime
When traveling with teens on vacation, there’s a strong urge to hurry to all of your itineraries to not miss anything. A jam-packed day, however, may exhaust and discourage your teens.
Most teens sporadically experience hermit moods, aka the time when they’d rather be alone. As much as you want to spend all of your time together, give your children some alone time during the trip – or at least time when they aren’t always on the move.;
After a day or two of movement, follow that up with a lazy day. Let the kids stay at the hotel to relax and enjoy their screen time. If you want to go out, explore on your own or if you want to spend more time with them, feel free to do so.
Take Photos Like a Teen
Today, teens take photos for their social media profiles. Part of their enjoyment of the vacation depends on the great photos they take. As the parent, you’ll eventually be tasked to take Instagram-worthy photos – repeatedly, if your photos don’t suit their standards.
Before the trip, a little practice won’t hurt, especially if you struggle with taking photos. Ask your teen about their social media aesthetic. How do they take their photos? It may seem like an unnecessary task, but it can be a grand gesture for your kids. Plus, you’ll learn more about their social media habits while you’re at it.
When it comes to taking photos with the family, having the kids join in may also be a struggle. If you want to take great photos with your teen, capture worthwhile shots in worthwhile locations. Refrain from taking way too many selfies, Mom and Dad. Just take photos when the event calls for it, not when you feel like taking selfies.
Compromise with Food
Food is one of the joys traveling can offer. Most teens appreciate this but some teens go on trips with their finicky appetites. In fact, some teens eat as if they’re still children. And that’s OK. Although watching your teen eat chicken fingers and mac and cheese in exotic Vietnam makes your inner foodie bug out, give them a break.
But it doesn’t hurt to encourage them once in a while. Just avoid nagging them and pulling out the “but-you-can-eat-that-at-home” card. Let your teen want to taste the food themselves, so make sure you’re enjoying the exotic food you’re eating.
Bring a Friend
Traveling with another family has its set of pros and cons – on one hand, you can enjoy uninterrupted adult time with your friends while your kids keep each other company, but you have to adjust to another family’s schedule. Another idea is to have your child invite a friend over. If your budget can accommodate and the friend’s parents are on board, having your teen child’s friend over offers more downtime for you. Let them use the buddy system and enjoy the trip their way.
Traveling with teens need not be troublesome. Everyone can enjoy family time and alone time during a vacation, as long as you plan ahead. So have a great time with your teens!